Mark 14:3

When Jesus was still at Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, while he was sitting at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of choice spikenard perfume of great value. She broke the jar, and poured the perfume on his head.

to see past surfaces
with Superman X-Ray Vision
is the dream of all comic readers
drawn to ads for glasses
providing this power

no glasses no matter
how finely prescribed
will see an inner beautiful woman
resident in an ugly-skinned man
this takes insight beyond power

bringing a blessing
to a leper’s lodging
blesses the bringer
with an aromatic ointment
soothing a wind-dried face

a leper breaks open
an alabastron breaks open
an unnamed woman breaks open
a coming death breaks open
a cosmic egg breaks open

A topsy-turvy verse.

1) In the Common English Bible, Simon “had” a skin disease or Simon “had” a skin disease. Past or present? Suggestions that Simon was cured but still carried the name Leper goes back at least as far as Jerome (347–420 CE). The Jesus story would certainly allow for his disease to still be active.

2) Even more troublesome than leprosy is another anonymous woman. She enters while a meal was in progress.

3) That’s bad enough, but to proceed to an anointing puts her in the category of a prophet. Maybe once-upon-a-time there were prophetesses—in Megillah 14a the Rabbis note seven: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah and Esther. But now?

4) But, wait, this is not an anointing of a king, but an anointing for burial. This is not a once and future king, but a never and won’t ever be king. This is a colt rider. This is a messenger of good news. This is a partner. So this is an anti-anointing?

5) And we end up back with the rich man looking for eternal life? We’re still hung up with monetizing belovedness. The one most blessed, most beloved, must also be the one with the most benefits. Jesus must have the most expensive funeral as well as a high-class tomb with the biggest stone instead of being left to rot and picked apart by the birds and dogs.

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